A Tata Motors plant in Sanand, Gujarat. Photo: Reuters

While Tata Motors made many attempts to dominate India’s small car market, they could not make much headway. Its ambitious Nano car project failed to rev up sales, but it now looks to have cracked the code with Tiago, its latest offering.

Launched two years ago, Tiago is now the second highest selling small car after Maruti Suzuki’s Alto and has overtaken Renault’s Kwid and Hyundai Eon, which are now in third and fourth position respectively, reports Business Standard.

Data from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers for January to March this year shows that more than 23,100 Tiagos were sold, up from 15,383 units sold in the same period last year, a 50% increase in volume.

This is a small number when compared with Alto’s nearly 62,200 units. However, Alto’s sales grew by only about 1% on its high base.

The Kwid, a sports utility vehicle-styled small car of French automaker Renault, saw its sales slip by over 32% to 17,517 units during the period. And Korean carmaker Hyundai’s Eon also saw a decline of 7% during the quarter.

However, for the 2017-18 financial year, Kwid maintained second spot with domestic sales of 83,089 units (in spite of a 24% drop year-on-year).

Tata Motors sold 78,829 units of the Tiago during 2017-18 and posted growth of more than 40% over the previous year. That makes the Tiago one of the fastest-growing car brands in the country over past year. Since the launch, the company has sold 134,952 units.

Tata Motors has been long struggling to make an impact in the price-sensitive Indian small-car market. It launched the Nano, the world’s cheapest car, with price a little above 100,000 rupees (US$1,510), but after some initial excitement, sales began to drop.

Experts attributed that to a marketing failure. The brand tried to appeal to the masses for whom affordability was a key factor. However, that positioning was part of the reason it failed, because people assumed it was substandard in quality.

Even Ratan Tata, chairman Emeritus at Tata Sons, admitted after stepping down in 2013 that marketing the Nano as a cheap car was a mistake.